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Copyright and Fair Use

This guide contains information and resources on copyright and fair use for Oxford College faculty and students.

Reserves and Copyright

All content placed on Course Reserves must comply with U.S. Copyright law. No one should post content consisting of copyrighted material or portions of copyrighted material without first:

  • determining that the content falls within the public domain,
  • obtaining permission from the copyright owner, or
  • determining, after a reasonable analysis, that the content is a fair use for which permission is not required.

If you are a Canvas user interested in posting content (journal articles, book chapters, etc.) for which you do not own the copyright, please work through the Course Reserves system, and our library staff will assist you with permissions, fair use, public domain, and other issues. A link to your reserves list can be created and placed directly into your Canvas course. For more information, contact the Reserves Team at

Please be aware that the Libraries review all materials uploaded to Course Reserves in order to determine if those materials fall within Fair Use and our license agreements. The Libraries will seek and pay permissions for materials when appropriate based on our guidelines.

Materials from Databases and eJournals

The Emory Libraries provide access to a number of databases and electronic journals by subscription agreement with vendors. Examples of major vendors of electronic resources include EBSCO, JSTOR, Project Muse, and Lexis Nexis. The Libraries maintain a full list of all databases and eJournals with current subscription agreements.

In many cases the license agreements with the vendors or publishers of these materials specifically address whether or not content may be downloaded and re-posted to an electronic reserves system. Since the answer to this question is inconsistent and there are so many licenses to consider, Reserves policy is TO LINK TO ANY DATABASE OR eJOURNAL CONTENT, rather than downloading the document and uploading it into ReservesDirect.

Library staff reviews uploaded content, and any database or eJournal content will be changed to links or removed if they are in breach of any library contract. IT IS ALWAYS SAFEST TO LINK. If you have any questions about how best to link to database and eJournal content, please contact the Reserves Team at

Using Web Resources

When including web resources in e-reserve, simply link to the webpage from Course Reserves. Linking is preferable to scanning or making a digital copy.

One should assume that all material published on the web is copyrighted. Copyright law no longer requires a copyright owner to place a copyright notice or symbol on copyrighted material. Therefore, unless the webpage specifically states that anyone can use the work for any purpose, one should assume that “all rights are reserved.”

Including Faculty Created Content

Faculty created material can be included in e-reserves. Such material includes exams, quizzes, course notes, course syllabi, journal articles and book chapters for which the faculty member retained copyright.

Many publishers use traditional publication agreements which require that all rights, including copyright, transfer to the journal or book publisher. Consequently, if you have transferred your copyright to the publisher and later want to post your article or chapters from your book in e-reserves, we may have to ask for permission from the publisher.

One way to avoid this issue in the future is to carefully read all your publication agreements and negotiate with the publisher. This can be done by adding the SPARC Author Addendum to your publication agreement. The addendum modifies the publication agreement to allow the author to retain some rights, including the ability to post the article or chapters to e-reserve.

Another option is to see if your article can be deposited in OpenEmory, an open access repository of Emory faculty authored articles.  If so, you can link to the article from within Course Reserves, and the article will also be freely available to the world.

For more information about copyright, fair use, or permissions, please see the Emory Libraries Scholarly Communications Office or contact the Scholarly Communications Office at